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edness which man, infuriated with a blind some the hollow bed of the wintry torrent, and superstitious zeal inflicts upon his bro- whose thundering waters have worked out ther.
for themselves a rugged pathway down the We turn from this scene of horrors to the hills; but all are accompanied by the same aspect presented by religion under a milder deep sense of outward danger, and internal form of persecution, or rather under one peace-all have the same bright stars to whose influence is more remote, and we light them on their silent way, and the same follow a little company of faithful worship- spiritual help to support their weary steps. pers to their tabernacle in the mountains, They know not but the homes they are where their canopy is the starry sky, and seeking may have become a heap of ruins ; their altar the rude rocks of the wilderness. but they have learned to look for an everUpon the summit of a beetling precipice, a lasting habitation where the spoiler may sentinel keeps watch, and while he looks to not come. They know not but the sword the sombre woods, the hollow caves, or the of persecution may have severed the chain dim and distant heights, if haply he may of their domestic happiness; but they feel discern the movements of an insiduous en- that every link of that chain can be reunited emy, hymns of praise and adoration are in a world of peace. They know not but heard from the congregation in the valley, the shadow of destruction may have fallen as, echoing from crag to crag, the deep full upon all that beautified and cheered their anthem of devotion rises on the evening earthly path; but they are pilgrims to a breeze. Then the devout and heartfelt better land, and they have only to press onprayer is offered up, that the true Shepherd ward in the simplicity of humble Christians, will vouchsafe to look down upon and visit and the gates of the celestial city will soon the scattered remnant of his flock, that his be won. voice may yet call them into safe pastures, Religion, stigmatized with the world's conand that he will pour out the waters of eter- tempt, and hunted from the earth by the nal lise, for the support of the feeble, the powerful emissaries of public authority, is refreshment of the weary, and the consola- ever the religion of the heart and the affection of the “sore distressed."
tions. Were it otherwise it could not stand It is in such scenes and circumstances, its ground; but dignity and disgrace, temthat the followers of a persecuted faith be- poral enjoyment and temporal suffering, even come indeed brethren in the fellowship of life and death, become as nothing in comChrist. Suffering in a common cause, ap- parison with that righteous cause which men prehending the same danger, and led on by feel themselves called upon faithfully to upone purpose, the vital bond of the society ex- hold before a disbelieving people, for the tends and lives through all its members. glory of God and the benefit of their fellow Discord enters not into their communion, creatures. If it be a test of the love which for the world is against them, and they can a man bears for his brother, that he will lay stand under its cruelty and oppression by no down his life for him, the test of suffering other compact than that of Christian love; must also apply to his religion; and pure and jealousy pours not its rankling venom into devoted must be the love of him, who holds their hearts, for they are hoping to attain a himself at all times in a state of readiness to felicity in which all are blest; ambition lay down the last and dearest sacrifice upsows not the seeds of selfishness amongst on the altar of his faith. Yes; that must be them, for their reward is one that admits of love indeed, which overweighs all earthly and no monopoly—of which all may partake, natural affections, which separates the mowithout diminishing the portion of any: and ther from her weeping child, the husband after this pure and simple worship, how sa- from his wife of yesterday, the friends who cred, how fervent is the farewell of the had been wont to take sweet counsel togethbrethren on separating for their distant er, and last, but not least, which tears away home. Some have to trace the dubious the fond endearing thoughts of promised sands of the sea-beaten shore, some the happiness from the heart around which they lonely sheep-track on the mountains, and cling when it beats with the fervour of youth
ful hope, and rejoices in the anticipated sun- troubled sea.
We listen, and the measured shine of bright days to come, in which the tread of sober feet is the only sound that dislovely and the loved may dwell together in turbs the silence of that sacred place—we, peace and safety even upon earth. It is not listen, till the beating of our own hearts bea light or common love that can thus sever comes audible, and we almost fear that a the strongest ties of human life, and fortify “stir--a breath” should break the slumbers the soul not only to endure all that our na- of the dead—we listen, and suddenly the ture shrinks from, but to resign all that our tremendous peal of the deep-toned organ nature teaches us to hold dear.
bursts upon our ear, and sweet young voices, From the worship of the heart, we turn to like a symphony of pure spirits, join the heathat of the sanctuary—from religion robbed venly anthem as it rises in a louder strain of of its external attributes, restrained, and per- harmony, and echoes though every arch of secuted, and driven inward to the centre of the resounding pile. The anthem ceases, volition, and sealed up in the fountains of and the sound of prayer ascends from a spiritual life ; to that which powerful nations thousand hearts, as variously formed as the combine to support, before which suppliant lips from whence that prayer proceeds, yet monarchs bow, and which, supreme above all uniting in the worship of one God-all the regal sceptre, sends forth its awful and reverentially acknowledging his right to imperious mandates through distant regions reign and rule with undisputed sway. of the peopled world.
Perhaps it is the hour of evening worship, We enter the magnificent and stately edi- and instead of the bright sunbeams glancfice consecrated to the worship of a God no ing through the many-tinted windows, and Jonger partially acknowledged, or reverenced penetrating into the distant recesses of the at the risk of life, and we mark the pomp cathedral pile, artificial lights of inferior lusand the ceremonial designed to recommend tre gleam out here and there, like stars in that worship to the general acceptance of the midnight sky, making the intervening mankind. Through the richly variegated darkness more palpable and profound. It is windows, bright beams of golden splendor the hour when “every soft and solemn inare glancing on the marble floor, and light- fluence” is poured most profusely upon the ing up the monumental tablets of departed prostrate soul, when the sordid and merceworth. Deeds of heroic virtue, long since nary cares of the day are over, and religion, forgotten but for that faithful record, are like an angel of peace, descends upon the dimly shadowed out upon the tombs, and troubled spirit that knows no other resting the sculptured forms that bend in silent beau- place than her sanctuary-no other shelter ty over the unbroken slumbers of the dead, than her brooding wing. It is the hour point with an awful warning to the inevitable when all our warmest, purest, and holiest doom of man. Above, around, and beneath affections gush forth like rills of sweetness us, are the storied pages on which human and refreshment, watering the verdure of labour has inscribed the memorial of its the path of life, and producing fresh lovelipower--the barriers raised by art against ness, and renewed delight. It is the hour the encroachments of time—the landmarks when prayer is the natural language of the graven upon stone, which denote the intel- devoted soul, and here the humble penitent lectual progress of past ages., We gaze up- is kneeling to implore the pardon promised on the tessellated aisle, intersected with al- to the broken and contrite heart—there the ternate light and shadow, where the stately parent devoutly asks a blessing upon his facolumns, terminating in the solemn arch, mily, and his household, upon the wife of rise like tall palm trees in the desert plain, his bosom, and the children of his lovewhose graceful branches meet in stately here the poor mendicant bares his pale grandeur above the head of the wayfaring brow before the eye of heaven, and stands traveller, while he pauses to bless their wel- without a blush in that presence to which come shade, and thinks how lovely are the wealth is no passport, and from which pogreen spots of verdure in the wilderness- verty affords no plea for rejection—there the the fertile islands that beautify a waste and rich arbitrer of magisteriallaw, humbly bends
his knee, and acknowledges, that without rational enjoyment, and believing this imthe sanction of divine authority the judg- molation of his nature is the sacrifice his God ment of man must be vain, and his sentence requires, pledges himself to the same abstivoidhere the miserable outcast from soci- nence, the same penance, and the same ety, glides unnoticed along the silent aisle, abasement through all the long years of his and bending beneath the shadow of a mar- after-life. ble column, bathes her hollow cheek with It is not, most assuredly, to the nature of tears whose sincerity is unquestioned here-- such worship, that we would accord the there the gaily habited, admired, and che- meed of poetical merit; but to the earnestrished idol of the same society folds her ness, the sincerity, the total dedication of white hands upon her bosom, and feels the heart, which its votaries display, and which deep aching void which religion alone is might sometimes bring a blush of shame sufficient to supply-here the rosy lips of upon the less devoted followers of a more cherub infancy lisp the words of prayer, enlightened faith. more felt than comprehended amidst the aw- Nor is the simplicity of a less ostentatious ful grandeur of that solemn scene; and form of worship inferior in its accordance there the wrinkled brow of age is illumi- with the true spirit of poetry. There is not nated with the overpowing brightness of much to fix the gaze of the beholder in the anticipated joy, while feeble accents, broken quiet congregation of a village church, or by the tremors of infirmity and pain, tell of in the little band of lowly suppliants who the gladness of renovated life.
bend the knee within the walls of the conIt is this variety of sight and sound, min- venticle, and listen to the impassioned elogled together into one scene, and united in quence, bursting in extemporaneous fervour, the same holy purpose, which constitutes a from the lips of the humble labourer in the harmony so true to the principles of human vineyard, whose reward is not the gift of nature, as well as to the character and attri- sordid gain, but the soul-sustaining conbutes of the Divine Being, and the relation sciousness of walking in the ways of truth, between him and his lowly and erring and yielding the tribute of obedience where creatures, that we cannot contemplate such simply to obey is to enjoy. There is not worship without aspiring to partake in its much to interest the mere spectator in such reality-we cannot feel its reality without a scene; but there is much to cheer the being raised higher in the scale of spiritual spirit of the philanthropist in the contemplaenjoyment.
tion of the earnest zeal, the strict integrity, If, retiring from this scene, we follow the and the devotional fervour which inspires penitent to his secret cell, we behold him this staunch adherence to what conscience lacerating his bleeding limbs, and torturing points out as a better way than that estabout what he believes to be the demon of his lished by former ages, supported by national natural heart; or we watch him through the authority, and persevered in by thousands tedious hours of solitary musing, when the from a blind partiality for old customs and sun is shining upon the walls of his con- familiar forms. vent, upon the green flowery valley where Far be it from the writer of these pages, it stands, and upon the glancing waters of a to draw invidious comparisons between one river whose pure fresh streams glide on with creed and another, or to join the public voice a perpetual melody, through woods, and which makes destruction rather than edifigroves, the verdant beauty of whose mazy cation the object of its tumultuous outcry. labyrinths look like the chosen walks of Whatever is the subject of popular belief, wandering angels. While the bright sun is or the common ground on which mankind shining upon a scene, the pale monk sits concentrate their energies and hopes, it brooding over the transgressions of his argues the proper exercise of moral feeling, youth, and counting a never-varying circle when those who dissent from such belief of dull beads; or, stooping his cold forehead have the courage and integrity to avow that to the stony floor, he closes every avenue of | dissent in the face of a disapproving world
when those who depart from such ground, his own soul, when suddenly the couch of do so in Christian love, and charity, and suffering is converted into one of triumph. with full purpose of heart.
He who cannot read, can feel the words of It is when entertaining these views of life; and joyfully he clasps his trembling moral rectitude, that we behold with pecu- hands in full assurance of an immortality, liar interest a congregation of schismatical from whose inexhaustible happiness, the worshippers, and even if we cannot join in poor, the despised, and the needy are not the peculiar form of their devotional duties, shut out. we can at least rejoice that there are inde- Or we turn to the cottage of the lonely pendent minds, ready to shake off the bond- widow who has lost the sole prop of her deage of established opinion, and freely and clining years, whose children are distant or fully to acknowledge whatever they con-dead, who sit from morn till night in the siscientiously believe to be the truth, making lence of her desolate home, pursuing the the testimony of their own faith supreme same monotonous range of limited and above the authorities of this world, and painful thought-looking alternately from preferring the service of God before the her narrow lattice upon the wide bare surgracious countenance of men.
face of the distant hills, or back again to the There are cases too, when this system of white ashes that lie upon her silent hearth. worship comes home to the affections of the It is to such a being (and there are many people unprovided for by the established | whose existence is a little more enlivened religion of the land. There are obscure and by mental or spiritual excitement) that the isolated beings, dwelling in remote or thinly social prayer meeting becomes an object of peopled districts, by whom the sound of the intense and incalculable enjoyment, the comSabbath bell is seldom heard, and to whom munion of fellow Christians a living and the welcome visitation of a Christian min- lasting consolation, and the record of divine ister would scarcely be known, but for the truth the source of vital interest and depilgrim preacher, who penetrates, not only light. into the solitary cottage of the herdsman on There are in the darkest and most dethe mountain, but into the lowest haunts of graded walks of life, coarse, blind votaries savage life, where, instead of the simplicity of mere animal gratification, outcasts from of pastoral innocence, he finds the brutality the pale of intellectual as well as moral felof rustic vice. Nor must we judge of the lowship, gross bodily creatures, who sink announcement of a village prayer meeting, the character of man beneath the level of or the appearance of an itinerant preacher, the brute-men whose haunts are the polby what we ourselves should feel, if com- luted habitations of guilt and shame, whose pelled to listen to his wild eloquence, stirring feelings are seared with the brand of public up the unsophisticated mind to enthusiasm, infamy, and whose souls are blasted with if not to pure devotion. We must picture the contagion of lawless thoughts and desthe poor and destitute old man, infirm and picable purposes, and passions uncontrolled. helpless, racked with pain, and trembling By such men the paths that lead to the on the brink of the grave, weary of life, yet house of prayer are more despised than the dreading the darkness and the uncertainty of gates of hell, and rather than seek the pardeath, his anguish never soothed by the don of an offended God, they impotently voice of kindness, nor his heart enlightened defy his power. But at the same time that by the words of comfort or instruction. We they are boasting of their recklessness, and must picture him day after day, and night making an open parade of the impious prosafter night, the sleepless, restless victim of titution of their souls, the worm that dieth lassitude and disease, without a thought not has begun its irresistible operation upon beyond the narrow bounds of his miserable their hearts, and the darkness and horror hovel, or a feeling separate from the pangs which surrounded them in their solitary that torture his emaciated frame. To such hours assume a tenfold gloom. They hear an one, perhaps the wandering minister of religion, and they hate the name; but imparts the sanguine hope that animates with their hate is mingled a secret trust in
its efficacy to remove the intolerable burden tunity of making the experiment become under which they groan. They scorn to more weary of continued repose than of join the congregation of openly professing continued exertion. Still the pining of the worshippers, though but to hear the nature heart is ever after some portion of natural of religion explained; but without implicat- and necessary rest, and the Sabbath, wliere ing themselves, they can go forth into the it is regarded with right feelings, affords a open fields to listen to, and mock the less beautiful and perfect exemplification of the authorized enthusiast, pouring his unpre- provision made by our Heavenly Father, to meditated eloquence upon the wondering | meet the wants and the wishes of humanity. ears of thousands, who would not have lis- Those pitiable beings whose mental existened to his voice elsewhere. And such are tence is supported by a perpetual succession the means by which the hardened sinner is of excitements, are wholly incapable of connot unfrequently awakened from his gross ceiving what the Sabbath is to the meand brutal sleep, the outcasts from the so-chanic, the labourer, or even to the man of ciety drawn back within the wholesome business, whose heart is with his family, limitations of a decent life, and the repro- while his head and hands are occupied in bate reclaimed from the dangerous error of the daily traffic of mercantile affairs. To
such a man the Sabbath is indeed a day of Nor let the more enlightened Christian refreshment, as well as rest-a day in despise such humble means, whose chief which he can listen to the prattle of his merit is their unbounded extent, added to almost unknown children, and look into their their adaptation to extreme cases, and opening minds, and cultivate a short-alas, whose efficacy, proved .by the observation too short acquaintance with the sources of of every day, is a sufficient warrant for their domestic happiness—it is a day on which he lawsulness. With the too frequent abuse of can enter into the free unreserved companthese means, poetry holds no connection; ionship of his own fireside, and, feeling that but it is their least recommendation to say, he has a possession in the esteem and the that poetry is intimately associated with approbation of those around him, in the their power to awaken the dormant energies moral rights of man, in the institutions of of the mind, to penetrate the heart, and religion, and in the heritage of an immortal mingle with the affections, and to let in the creature, he aspires to a higher and more glorious light of immortality upon the be- intellectual state of being than that absorbed nighted soul.
in the continual pursuit of wealth. If then Of all the public ordinances of our reli- he loves the Sabbath, it is not merely begion, that which appoints one day in seven cause it relieves him from the necessity of for a season of rest, is perhaps the most pro- laborious exertion, but because it makes him ductive of poetical association, and as such a wiser and a better man. has ever been a favourite theme with the The mechanic has the same reason, and imaginative bard. In a world such as we the same right to welcome this day. Indeed inhabit, and with a bodily and mental confor- it seems to be the peculiar privilege of those mation like ours, it is natural that rest who spend their intervening hours in toil should become (especially in advanced and trouble, to appreciate the enjoyment of age) the object of our continual desire, and the Sabbath, so far as it affords them an inthat regarding it superficially, as it appears terval of cessation from irksome cares. to us in the midst of the cares and perplexi- Rightly to enjoy, and fully to approciate the ties of ordinary life, we should learn to value of the Sabbath, requires the associaspeak of it as our chief good; although it is tion of a higher range of thought and feelprobable that in a purer sphere, and endowed ing, such as religion alone can supply. with renovated powers of action and per- If in the busy town, and for those who ception, we should find that constant activity tread the beaten paths of life, there is much was more productive of enjoyment. Even to interest the heart in the recurrence of the here, the word rest is one of comparative Sabbath—in the chiming of innumerable signification, for those who have an oppor- / bells at stated intervals of public worship, in